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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks to the media at Civil District Court after a judge heard arguments over whether the state’s trigger ban is too flawed to take effect in New Orleans, La. Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

If it feels like Louisiana’s population has been stagnating for decades now, it's because it's true. That’s why numerous political campaigns have focused on attracting high-paying jobs and reversing the brain drain to states that offer better professional opportunities and a higher quality of life.

So it would be a novel approach indeed for a potential governor to urge folks to head for the exits.

Yet that’s what Attorney General Jeff Landry, widely expected to compete in next year’s gubernatorial election, did recently when he railed against the plaintiffs challenging the state’s new abortion trigger laws.

“If you don’t like Louisiana’s laws or Louisiana’s constitution, you can go to another state,” Landry said after a New Orleans judge allowed the abortion ban to go into effect as the case proceeds. “If you don’t like the laws of the states, you can move to one under which you like.”

How’s that for a campaign slogan?

It's true that successive Legislatures and governors have backed strict restrictions on abortion, and a healthy majority of voters approved a 2020 amendment saying there’s no right to an abortion in Louisiana’s constitution. Yet it remains to be seen whether the most extreme specifics — no exception for rape or incest victims, for example, and potential prison time for doctors who perform abortions or even provide standard care during miscarriages — have widespread support.

Regardless, the people who disagree are Louisianans too, and have every right to pursue their case through the courts, even if the odds are against them. As the state’s top lawyer, Landry surely knows that. After all, he’s done the same many times in pursuit of his own agenda.

And if the laws stand, state leaders who backed them will face a new and challenging economic development landscape, particularly with the type of employers hoping to attract the well-educated workers that polls show are most opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and send the decision back to states.

Whoever’s in charge will need to figure out how best to sell Louisiana to those who’ve got other options. It doesn’t help to have one of the state’s top officials making the case that they should take them.